Customer service representatives

If you ever want to spend abnormal amounts of time on the phone with customer service representatives, move to another state. Every service I’ve ever had has to be shut down in one state and started up in another. And, truth be told, I’ve encountered some very nice customer service people who were as helpful as their company policies and procedures allowed them to be.

But then there were the exceptions. A few bad apples and I’ve got to fight not to paint them all with the same brush. I’m usually a patient man, and understanding with customer service people, who often get handed problems not of their making to sort out. But the one I talked to last night got under my skin really quickly.

When I signed up for cellular service in our new state I was told our package included free text messaging. Not that I wanted text messaging, mind you, but it was part of the upgrade that allowed us to make free unlimited calls to any mobile phone. And since I had it–for free–I decided to try using it. I kinda like it, really.

But my bill arrived yesterday, and those texts messages were not free. I got on the phone to customer service right away. When I got a representative finally I explained my problem. Her response? “So you want to add the text messaging upgrade?”

No, I did not want to add the upgrade, I already had it, and for free.  But that was her response to my next several attempts to explain–did I want to sign up for a service upgrade? I lost it. I ranted at her. I ranted against the cellular industry. I fumed and made very unfair accusations. And in the end I decided to take the problem to the local retailer who sold me the plan in the first place.

Their phone number is no longer in service. Even the parent company doesn’t know this.

I called another local retailer to see if they knew what happened to the other store. They didn’tknow–as far as they knew it was still there–but the guy offered to help me with my problem. THAT was music to my ears. Not only was he sympathetic, but he seemed willing to take ownership of a problem not of his making. When I get a chance I’m going to go over to his store and see what he can do to straighten this out. If he continues to handle me well I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he gets any credit for my subscription.

On a side note, another surprisingly good customer service rep was the young lady I spoke with at CenturyLink (formerly Qwest). She did a great job of walking me through starting up our phone and internet service, explaining options, and coaxing me into an upgrade or two. I was so cheered by speaking with her I didn’t mind at all when she informed me I’d have to call another number in my former state to cancel my service there. Very pleasant young lady. From Canada.

Customer service makes or breaks businesses. It’s somewhat ironic that the people who most represent a company to its customers are the ones often paid little and poorly equipped. That they can summon any enthusiasm for their job at all is just short of a miracle. I know. I’ve been there. I quit after two weeks.

That said, my cellular provider is on notice. They have a chance to make things right, but if they don’t, as soon as I can afford to bolt I’m as good as gone. There are other companies who will treat me well. I’m not sure why I’m not with them now. Live and learn, I guess.

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